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Trinidad and Tobago

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
8%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
8%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

11% of girls in Trinidad and Tobago are married before the age of 18 and 3% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most prevalent in the east of the country.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. There is limited information on child marriage in Trinidad and Tobago, but available studies show that it is driven by:

  • Poverty: 25% of women with primary level education were married before the age of 18, compared to only 10% who had completed secondary school or higher.
  • Religion: An MP presented evidence in 2017 suggesting that child marriage is a phenomenon driven by many different religious communities, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians, in Trinidad and Tobago.

What has this country committed to?

Trinidad and Tobago has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Trinidad and Tobago ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1990, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Trinidad and Tobago supported recommendations to strengthen efforts to eradicate child marriage and ensure implementation of existing legislation on the minimum legal age for marriage.

In 2016 the CEDAW Committee raised concerns that the 1923 Marriage Act, the 1945 Hindu Marriage Act, the 1961 Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and the 1999 Orisa Marriage Act allowed for girls to be married at the ages of 12, 14 and 16 years respectively, hence legitimising child marriage. The country team recommended that the government reconcile the instruments so that the minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys is in line with international standards.

Inconsistent and conflicting laws around child marriage and the age of consent were identified as an utmost priority in the country’s 2016 CEDAW shadow report.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

In January 2017, the Attorney General introduced a bill to harmonise the country’s marriage laws and raise the minimum legal of age of marriage to 18 years old, without exception.

In May 2016 child marriage was the subject of heated debate after the Inter-Religious Organisation suggested that the country’s marriage laws should not be amended, despite allowing girls as young as 12 to get married.

Since 2011 the National Hindu Women’s Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago has engaged in extensive campaigns and petitions to the Minister of Legal Affairs to change Marriage Acts which have enabled child marriages.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

In 2017, the Miscellaneous Provisions Marriage Bill successfully passed through both Houses of Parliament and obtained Presidential Assent. This Marriage Act amends the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Hindu Marriage Act, Orisa Marriage Act and Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act, raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years.

Source

Global Voices, With one more vote, Trinidad and Tobago could ban child marriage, [website], 2017, https://globalvoices.org/2017/01/20/with-one-more-vote-trinidad-and-tobago-could-ban-child-marriage/ (accessed March 2018)

Loop, Child marriage not specific to one religion, [website], 2017, http://www.looptt.com/content/ag-child-marriage-not-specific-one-religion (accessed March 2018)

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2011 Key Findings & Tables, 2017, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS4/Latin%20America%20and%20Caribbean/Trinidad%20and%20Tobago/2011/Final/Trinidad%20and%20Tobago%202011%20MICS_English.pdf (accessed March 2018)

Trinidad and Tobago Non-governmental Organisations, Shadow Report 2016, The combined fourth to seventh periodic report of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, on the United Nations CEDAW, 2016, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/TTO/INT_CEDAW_NGO_TTO_24192_E.pdf (accessed March 2018)

UN General Assembly, Compilation prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 Trinidad and Tobago, 2016, p.6, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/TTindex.aspx (accessed March 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Trinidad and Tobago, 2016, p.16, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/TTindex.aspx (accessed March 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed February 2018)

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Members In Trinidad and Tobago